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[ENG] Scientists bend gamma rays, could neuter radioactive waste

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
408
Bending most light is easy; bending it in gamma ray form, however, has often been deemed impossible given how hard it is for electrons to react to the extreme frequencies. University of Munich scientist Dietrich Habs and his Institut Laue-Langevin teammate Michael Jentschel have proven that assumption wrong: an experiment in blasting a silicon prism has shown that gamma rays will refract just slightly through the right material...

Source - Engadget
Via - Slashdot
Original - Science

EDIT: Forgot the source brackets
Edited by stumped - 5/10/12 at 8:48am
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post #2 of 9
My question for this is, how much of the "rendering nuclear waste inert" portion is theory and how much of it has been tried and observed? People have known that we can theoretically bend gamma rays for a while now but never knew how until now.

Nonetheless, I think this is a pretty big breakthrough if the index of refracition of whatever material they plan on using is big enough to change the path of the ray by a significant amount (with respect to the gamma ray of course).
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post #3 of 9
...I hope the person working on this isn't Dr. Banner.


all joking aside. this is a good read.
post #4 of 9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thelamacmdr View Post

My question for this is, how much of the "rendering nuclear waste inert" portion is theory and how much of it has been tried and observed?

I think that was added by slashdot/engadget. the science article doesn't have that part in the title (but i also didn't read the science article part).
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post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by stumped View Post

I think that was added by slashdot/engadget. the science article doesn't have that part in the title (but i also didn't read the science article part).

Ah my bad the science article is the one I didn't read and apparently it answered all of my questions regarding the index of refraction and the amount the ray was refracted. Next up in the news: Cost of gold on the rise as scarcity increases.
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post #6 of 9
The main problem is that rendering radioactive waste inert by (gamma, neutron) reactions - fission products are neutron rich and normally beta decay to become stable, which converts their excess neutrons to protons - would have to be done on the kilogram scale. Usually beams involving nuclear reactions use gram-scale material. The average "reaction target" is the size of a quarter and about as thick, in general.

I think it's mostly wishful thinking that may find proof-of-concept, but there needs to be a way to scale up these things.
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post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quantum Reality View Post

The main problem is that rendering radioactive waste inert by (gamma, neutron) reactions - fission products are neutron rich and normally beta decay to become stable, which converts their excess neutrons to protons - would have to be done on the kilogram scale. Usually beams involving nuclear reactions use gram-scale material. The average "reaction target" is the size of a quarter and about as thick, in general.
I think it's mostly wishful thinking that may find proof-of-concept, but there needs to be a way to scale up these things.

But is it cost efficient? It seems like more and more people are trying to find ways to perfect Nuclear energy rather than perfect other "clean" forms of energy and I don't blame them. I feel like there's some lesson in entropy hidden in this somewhere.
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post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Not A Good Idea View Post

...I hope the person working on this isn't Dr. Banner.
all joking aside. this is a good read.

I for one do hope the person working on this IS in fact Dr. Banner and will welcome our new HULK overlord to rule the world.
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post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by thelamacmdr View Post

But is it cost efficient? It seems like more and more people are trying to find ways to perfect Nuclear energy rather than perfect other "clean" forms of energy and I don't blame them. I feel like there's some lesson in entropy hidden in this somewhere.

If you consider the fact that nuclear reactors can make several tons of radioactive waste per year, you definitely want a kilogram-scale version of this, at least. Then, let's say it takes a day to sharply reduce the radioactivity by knocking off excess neutrons. A ton is a thousand kilograms, so you're looking at a thousand days - a bit under three years. Still way better than the generations-of-unusability problem of normal waste, though.

Plus, if you can strip the waste of technetium (medical imaging) and promethium ("starters" for some fluorescent bulbs) first, that's a big help.
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